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The Comedy of Errors

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Act II, Scene 1

The house of ANTIPHOLUS of Ephesus.



  • Adriana. Neither my husband nor the slave return'd,
    That in such haste I sent to seek his master!
    Sure, Luciana, it is two o'clock. 275
  • Luciana. Perhaps some merchant hath invited him,
    And from the mart he's somewhere gone to dinner.
    Good sister, let us dine and never fret:
    A man is master of his liberty:
    Time is their master, and, when they see time, 280
    They'll go or come: if so, be patient, sister.
  • Adriana. Why should their liberty than ours be more?
  • Luciana. Because their business still lies out o' door.
  • Adriana. Look, when I serve him so, he takes it ill.
  • Luciana. O, know he is the bridle of your will. 285
  • Adriana. There's none but asses will be bridled so.
  • Luciana. Why, headstrong liberty is lash'd with woe.
    There's nothing situate under heaven's eye
    But hath his bound, in earth, in sea, in sky:
    The beasts, the fishes, and the winged fowls, 290
    Are their males' subjects and at their controls:
    Men, more divine, the masters of all these,
    Lords of the wide world and wild watery seas,
    Indued with intellectual sense and souls,
    Of more preeminence than fish and fowls, 295
    Are masters to their females, and their lords:
    Then let your will attend on their accords.
  • Adriana. This servitude makes you to keep unwed.
  • Luciana. Not this, but troubles of the marriage-bed.
  • Adriana. But, were you wedded, you would bear some sway. 300
  • Luciana. Ere I learn love, I'll practise to obey.
  • Adriana. How if your husband start some other where?
  • Luciana. Till he come home again, I would forbear.
  • Adriana. Patience unmoved! no marvel though she pause;
    They can be meek that have no other cause. 305
    A wretched soul, bruised with adversity,
    We bid be quiet when we hear it cry;
    But were we burdened with like weight of pain,
    As much or more would we ourselves complain:
    So thou, that hast no unkind mate to grieve thee, 310
    With urging helpless patience wouldst relieve me,
    But, if thou live to see like right bereft,
    This fool-begg'd patience in thee will be left.
  • Luciana. Well, I will marry one day, but to try.
    Here comes your man; now is your husband nigh. 315

[Enter DROMIO of Ephesus]

  • Adriana. Say, is your tardy master now at hand?
  • Dromio of Ephesus. Nay, he's at two hands with me, and that my two ears
    can witness.
  • Adriana. Say, didst thou speak with him? know'st thou his mind? 320
  • Dromio of Ephesus. Ay, ay, he told his mind upon mine ear:
    Beshrew his hand, I scarce could understand it.
  • Luciana. Spake he so doubtfully, thou couldst not feel his meaning?
  • Dromio of Ephesus. Nay, he struck so plainly, I could too well feel his
    blows; and withal so doubtfully that I could scarce 325
    understand them.
  • Adriana. But say, I prithee, is he coming home? It seems he
    hath great care to please his wife.
  • Adriana. Horn-mad, thou villain! 330
  • Dromio of Ephesus. I mean not cuckold-mad;
    But, sure, he is stark mad.
    When I desired him to come home to dinner,
    He ask'd me for a thousand marks in gold:
    'Tis dinner-time,' quoth I; 'My gold!' quoth he; 335
    'Your meat doth burn,' quoth I; 'My gold!' quoth he:
    'Will you come home?' quoth I; 'My gold!' quoth he.
    'Where is the thousand marks I gave thee, villain?'
    'The pig,' quoth I, 'is burn'd;' 'My gold!' quoth he:
    'My mistress, sir' quoth I; 'Hang up thy mistress! 340
    I know not thy mistress; out on thy mistress!'
  • Dromio of Ephesus. Quoth my master:
    'I know,' quoth he, 'no house, no wife, no mistress.'
    So that my errand, due unto my tongue, 345
    I thank him, I bare home upon my shoulders;
    For, in conclusion, he did beat me there.
  • Adriana. Go back again, thou slave, and fetch him home.
  • Dromio of Ephesus. Go back again, and be new beaten home?
    For God's sake, send some other messenger. 350
  • Adriana. Back, slave, or I will break thy pate across.
  • Dromio of Ephesus. And he will bless that cross with other beating:
    Between you I shall have a holy head.
  • Adriana. Hence, prating peasant! fetch thy master home.
  • Dromio of Ephesus. Am I so round with you as you with me, 355
    That like a football you do spurn me thus?
    You spurn me hence, and he will spurn me hither:
    If I last in this service, you must case me in leather.


  • Luciana. Fie, how impatience loureth in your face! 360
  • Adriana. His company must do his minions grace,
    Whilst I at home starve for a merry look.
    Hath homely age the alluring beauty took
    From my poor cheek? then he hath wasted it:
    Are my discourses dull? barren my wit? 365
    If voluble and sharp discourse be marr'd,
    Unkindness blunts it more than marble hard:
    Do their gay vestments his affections bait?
    That's not my fault: he's master of my state:
    What ruins are in me that can be found, 370
    By him not ruin'd? then is he the ground
    Of my defeatures. My decayed fair
    A sunny look of his would soon repair
    But, too unruly deer, he breaks the pale
    And feeds from home; poor I am but his stale. 375
  • Luciana. Self-harming jealousy! fie, beat it hence!
  • Adriana. Unfeeling fools can with such wrongs dispense.
    I know his eye doth homage otherwhere,
    Or else what lets it but he would be here?
    Sister, you know he promised me a chain; 380
    Would that alone, alone he would detain,
    So he would keep fair quarter with his bed!
    I see the jewel best enamelled
    Will lose his beauty; yet the gold bides still,
    That others touch, and often touching will 385
    Wear gold: and no man that hath a name,
    By falsehood and corruption doth it shame.
    Since that my beauty cannot please his eye,
    I'll weep what's left away, and weeping die.
  • Luciana. How many fond fools serve mad jealousy! 390